Miss Congeniality: Armed and Fabulous: An Interview with Sandra Bullock
|(March: Main Page * Features * Reviews * Screenings * Teen ) Current Issue * Archive|
By Todd Gilchrist
WELL, A LONG TIME NO SEE. DID YOU PURPOSELY TAKE SOME TIME OFF?
Sandra Bullock: It's been a little bit, yeah. I took a year and a half off. I was going to do it for a year and it went a year and a half. I mean, I was producing still. I was working on "The George Lopez Show" and doing other stuff, but acting wasn't in the cards.
DID YOU NEED SOME TIME TO RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES?
SB: Not so much. I just needed to do some other stuff. I wanted a life again. I'm sort of a workaholic and I use that as an excuse not to stop. And I didn't know what was going on in my life anymore or what time I liked to get up anymore what I liked to for a living or who I was. So I just sort of took some time and a year became a year and a couple of months and six months and then Paul Haggis who wrote and directed "Crash" sent me something and I said to him, 'I'm not working. I'm not working.' He said, 'Just read it.' So I read it and I was like, 'I don't care what you want me to play, I'll do whatever you want me to do.' And that experience, those four days were like, 'If it can be like this when I'm acting then maybe this is the direction I should be going, this kind of experience.' That sort of got me back into it.
THIS IS THREE WEEKS LATER IN THE SEQUEL, BUT SEVERAL YEARS IN REALITY. DID YOU EVER THINK THAT TOO MUCH TIME HAD GONE BY TO MAKE THIS?
SB: Nope. Why?
PEOPLE EXPECT THINGS TO COME OUT PRETTY QUICKLY DON'T THEY?
SB: Yeah, but if we all did what people expect we'd be doing whatever everyone else wants you to do. That's what the whole movie is about. You know, you do it when you're supposed to. I think that there is the rush to be on a timeline. And I think that's what sort of hinders us. It's like, 'No. You're supposed to do this and be successful by this age or you're supposed to be married by this age.' It's like, 'Oh my God, who's schedule is that.' And I've worked with Marc Lawrence who wrote the first one and then I produced his first film that he directed which was "Two Weeks Notice," which he also wrote and I was in. So we were always talking about what happened to Grace. What would happen with Gracie. And then we just went into that. The development process is usually two to three years unless you had planned to do a sequel in which case they started writing it before the first one was even done. We hadn't planned on making a sequel.
YOU CAST THIS MOVIE WITH A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE DONE TV. WAS THAT ON PURPOSE?
SB: Well, who? Like Diedrich [Bader]? Diedrich did our first film together, a TV movie of the week, which was my first job in L.A. He came in and blew us away. You look at him and go, 'God, stop talking.' Every time, we'd had to cut away from him who is why there are so many singles of him because we're laughing.
THE GIRL WHO PLAYS JANET AS WELL...
SB: Oh yeah, Elisabeth [Rohm].
AND JOHN PASQUIN. SB: And our director who did 'George Lopez.' The nice thing was that we had all the directors coming in to do their meetings and John [Pasquin] said, 'Can I come in and pitch this?' and we were like, 'Whoa. Will this be an uncomfortable situation? I have to work with him.' And he came in and he was one of the few who said, 'Do you know why this isn't working in the script? It's because of this.' And we went, 'Oh my God, you're right.' Everything for him is character-based. If it's not working in the story it means that you have to go back to the character. What would these characters do, and not look at the bigger picture. So yeah, there's a comfort zone, but I was scared. How do you say no to someone that you have to work with anyway and he came in and did great. And he comes from the theater too. So he always knows where to take it, its foundation.
NO LOVE INTEREST ONCE AGAIN. I HEARD THAT YOU DIDN'T WANT THAT, RIGHT?
SB: Well, no. It's not so much that I didn't want it. It's that the story that Marc and I found that we wanted to tell went in this direction.
AND IT'S ONLY THREE WEEKS LATER...
SB: Exactly. And she's still smarting. She got dumped and how do you deal with your life when you're A) not just dumped, but B) you're so famous that you can't do your job anymore. And her job is the only thing that she has and knows how to do. What do you do if someone says, 'You can no longer do what you've done your whole life.' You go, 'Oh, I'll be fine.' No you won't. You won't be fine. If someone said to me, 'You can't do all the things that you love to do anymore. You have to shift and become something else, and we can't tell you what that is. We can't help you with it.' What do you do? So I loved that idea and I also loved the idea of having an equal partner, and I loved the idea that the equal partner was a female. I loved the idea of that equal partner reflecting who I was and I love opposites banging heads. And I think that people like to watch it too. It's funny watching us together. You just go, 'Right. Is she going to kill her?' So it's a love story and it's about loving yourself and it's about so many other things, and I think that every film has a love story in it. Every single film is about love on some level - life or family or intimate relations. It's all about love and us loving one another.
YOU KIND OF SING YOUR LITTLE SONG IN THE END TO HER LIKE YOU DID TO BENJAMIN BRATT, RIGHT?
SB: Yeah. That song has a lot of use. When I'm bloating, that song comes out.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT ON THE FILM BECAUSE I'M SURE THERE ARE A LOT OF OUTTAKES THAT WE DIDN'T SEE?
SB: I'm not embarrassed when I screw up, not at all because Marc Lawrence wrote the trash. I'm just kidding when I say trash. I say that lovingly. He'd write these things where I'd have to string it together and say it at such a speed. It's his own fault that it's not working and I blame him. I'm not embarrassed much. My life should be like that I guess. I'm sure that people are embarrassed for me. But I don't personally get embarrassed. I mean, just the other day I'm leaving the set where I'm filming in Texas and I'm doing something where I'm not paying attention and I have these beautiful period clothes on and I go, 'God, why is my slip falling?' And I'm walking outside towards the van and I'm just shuffling around the corner and I thought to myself, 'I'm not wearing a slip. What is that?' I look down and what happens is that I had this great girdle on that has these curves and this padding textured in there and so there's a girdle from here to here with padding sewn onto it and my wool skirt around me knees. I'm like, 'I'm so glad it's the last day.' I zipped the skit back up and I got on the bus and I was telling the teamsters, 'You know my skirt was just around my ankles.' They were like, 'Oh. Whatever.' That is pretty much the way I am, but I think that's because I'm unconscious about so many things. And I should pay more attention. Maybe if I paid attention I would be embarrassed. But too many things happen for me to get embarrassed. I say that now, and watch something will happen. I'll have a wardrobe malfunction.
I ALWAYS LIKE THAT YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE SOUNDTRACK...
SB: Well, not always. It's only like when I really love the music.
LIKE, "PRACTICAL MAGIC" WAS GREAT.
SB: That's a good one and so is "Forces of Nature." That's a really great one. This soundtrack is wicked good. Wicked, wicked, wicked. I wanted it to be one of those soundtracks because I always make like compilation things or I always go to these things where you get the really bad, old school hip hop compilations from the '80's. But you don't want to buy the whole album of The Gap Band. So that's what I wanted this to be. I wanted to be something that you could throw in your car and play it and just go, 'Oh my God, this is great.' Of course there's 'Having My Baby' by Paul Anka. I went to this concert and he sang this song, and I was there going, 'That's right, Paul!'
WHAT WAS IT LIKE GETTING BACK INTO GRACIE?
SB: Well, we never really stopped talking about her with Marc. We were always talking about what would happen. We always sort of had it as a joke. It's kind of weird. You want to slip in and have old Gracie, but you also want to continue the story. We don't need to repeat the first one because you can go rent the first one. You don't want to do that. That's sort of the problem with sequels. I think that's the problem with sequels. You sort of want to stay true to the first one and when you do it you sometimes go too much back to the first one and just repeat what you did before. If you go too far from the first one you lose what it was. So to have it grow and move forward and say something else which was still very true to Gracie was tricky, but as long as it's done with honesty and humor, I think your better off in a sequel like that than you are in a serious film. If you're making a sequel to a serious film how do you do that? Like I said, I was in one sequel that didn't work and with good reason it didn't work. But everyone thought that it would work.
HOW MUCH OF YOU IS IN GRACIE?
SB: I would like to be Gracie. I think that Gracie is just, I mean, she's not unconscious. She can't just help doing what she does. No matter how far away she gets from herself, she just ekes out. No matter how straight her hair is blown dry, that curly hair will ping out. If she needs to communicate by punching that's just the way that it has to come out and she just makes no apologies and when she apologizes, she's not apologizing for having been truthful. She's apologizing because she made you bleed a little bit. So I would like to be that free and unique, but I think that we're always aware of what society thinks. And I think that's a bummer.
AT THIS POINT IN YOUR CAREER AND IN YOUR LIFE, HOW CONTENT AND HAPPY ARE YOU?
SB: I've never been happier or felt better. Things make more sense. I think that because I took the time off things fell into place. People go, 'What do you do?' I say, 'I don't know. I make mistakes. I'm a hypocrite. I said one thing last year and another thing this year.' But the thing that I think made the most sense to me was realizing what I was not and not aspiring to be what I wasn't.
SB: Which is a lot of things. There are my own personal things. I go, 'Wow. Why did I try and do that when that's not really who I was? Why am I not trying that even though people don't think that I can do that.' I mean, someone does a film and that's who you are and your job is to, no matter what people say, start from scratch, start from the beginning again and go in this direction. It really requires you to start from scratch. Like in "Crash," you had to start from scratch. I had success in this direction, and I could still have that, but I like going back here and everyone is for scale. Everyone is in the same thing again and you have to revisit and revisit the crap. Look, what do I have to complain about though? I'm healthy.
HOW IS LIFE IN TEXAS RIGHT NOW?
SB: Awesome. I just came back two days ago. It was a little rainy, kind of like this. But you know what, when they switched 'Every Word Is True' to film in Austin, I had nothing to do with that. I swear. People looked at me and went, 'What did you do to get this?' But you know what, they got a lot of stuff production wise and it looks amazing and it was so nice, again, because we shot 'Hope Floats' and the first 'Miss Congeniality' there, to roll out of bed with the dogs and just go, 'I'm getting my coffee at the Starbucks that I always get my coffee at and I'm going down the same road.' My goal each day going home was to beat the sun. If I could get home before the sun set, there's just like a great color in our neighborhood and we go, 'Oh my God,' and it's by the water. So that was my goal for the day. Life is really, my life is really good.
WHAT KIND OF DOG?
SB: Good question. I like to call him a Celtic Field Hound. And he's not really a breed, but he's like your hair, that great auburn red. It's like the Celts would have him out on the field and he always looks very concerned and he has this big ol triangle head. I think that his mother was white Pit, but we can't find that anywhere. He kind of looks like a red hound lab kind of. He's very concerned about the world.
WHAT'S HIS NAME?
SB: Colonel. We call him Kerny for short. We literally found him outside of Whole Foods and we were going to call him Mustard. And then there's Bob.
WHAT KIND OF DOG IS BOB?
SB: Shepherd mix.
THE LITTLE OLD LADY IN THIS WAS HILARIOUS...
SB: Ida [Flammenbaum]. I wanted Ida to be here.
HAD YOU GONE THAT DEEP INTO THE MAKEUP WORLD BEFORE?
SB: No. But Pamela Westmore, who does my makeup from the famous Westmore lineage, her grandfather and uncles, she did all of that. She did all of that with a hair dryer and eyelash glue. She created the wrinkles and age spots and we had the teeth made. I mean, that's when you go, 'Wow.' I mean, makeup is so unappreciated unless you've come up with the "Star Wars" heads. Ida, I wanted her to be here. All she's ever done is walk-ons on soap operas. And she loves Atlantic City and this what she does.
WHAT ABOUT THE ADDITIONAL APPENDAGES?
SB: Oh, the brass tits. We stole this from a fabulous drag queen in a Vegas show. They were all great. But there was this big round guy that did the fat Madonna, but then he did this thing where he turned and he had his boobs rigged up and the left one went up and the right one went up. I thought, 'I have to use that.' Men don't think about how difficult it is for women to fight because we have to deal with that. We can't just go like that. That's what it was about, moving the brothers around to get the best punch in.
DO YOU FEEL THAT PRESSURE OF AGING IN HOLLYWOOD?
SB: You know what, it's not just Hollywood. Women got the short end of the stick. Not only do we have cramps, not only do we have to give birth if we chose, and not only do we have to go through menopause which we have no choice about, we have to deal with that fact. But you know what, I think that we need to adopt the principles that the European countries have adopted which is the older you are the sexier you are. You look in someone's eyes and you see the experience and you see that they know themselves and the women, we know our bodies. We know what feels good. That's what sexy. It's the same thing with men. Look at men, men's products. I am sorry, but it's embarrassing. Oh my God, at least get the good stuff. Everyone is sort of subjected to society and keeping the gel in the hair and cutting it just right and knowing which shirts look good, which baggy pants, which sneakers you're going to wear. Guys have a whole thing too. You've got your own troubles to do deal with that. But we do have to deal with a little more than you do. But whatever makes you feel good about yourself, do it. If you want to do plastic surgery, just go to a good one. I keep telling people, I'm going to give you an example of good and bad.' That's scary. But if you want to go that way, fine. Luckily, my job hasn't been based on being the sex kitten or being the most beautiful girl on the lot or the fashion icon. If I can keep doing what I'm doing and not feel like I can age with my job, I won't do it anymore. I can still produce, but I don't have to look a certain way. So I have that luxury and I feel comfortable with that. I mean, yeah, I go, 'Oh my god, this lipstick is so pretty.' I go, 'Oh my god, I've got to lose weight so I can fit into this.' But I also go, 'I haven't been to the gym in a year. Do I want to go the gym? No.' At some point I'll start running again and I'll get there. I feel good, but I also had a mother who really instilled us from the very beginning about things to do and things not to do and I saw how she looked when she passed away, and I've never seen a more beautiful woman in my entire life. I'm like, I swear to god, every time she came out of surgery, I said, 'You had plastic surgery.' She looked better. She really did. Luckily, there was genetics, but she also ate well. She was healthy up to a point when she wasn't healthy. She was just beautiful because she knew who she was. She comfortable in her own skin. She was unique. She was eccentric and she walked into a room and people went, 'Oh my god.' I think that when you like yourself and are happy with yourself, people find you attractive. I mean, there's a lot of beautiful people who after about five minutes you go like that. 'Don't say anything. Don't say anything.'
YOU'RE GOING TO BE WORKING WITH KEANU AGAIN, HOW IS THAT?
SB: Yes. Well, what I just discovered in the other room, I think that Keanu just wants to make out with me. It's been too long for him I think. He needs it. He needs me.
WHEN DO YOU START?
SB: He's actually flying out in two days. He starts the first half and then we overlap for like two weeks, and then I start. It's really a beautiful film. We sort of talked about finding something, but nothing really worked and then I saw this and I spoke with the director and he brought up Keanu and I went, 'You couldn't have picked a better person.' It's beautiful. It's very European. The way it's shot is stunning and the story is really, really beautiful and I'm excited. I'm excited to go to Chicago and hang with him and just do this story with him.
SO ARE YOU BACK INTO WORK?
SB: I kind of have no choice. Once we started producing again life got manic again, and I think that after I finish in Chicago there'll be some downtime again.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE OUTFITS GRACIE WORE?
SB: Oh, absolutely. We built most of those. It's the old school fashion design, not just going to designers and using that. We wanted to build them and make them more Barbie like so that they had a comedic element to it. If you look at them, they were all there to facilitate the comedy. I said, 'Make it so that I can't move in this. Make it so that when you walk into a room it's an eyesore color.' That yellow coat. The showgirl was all about the headdress. 'How uncomfortable can we make this thing on the head?' So it's the old school way, the way that they used to do costumes.
|(March: Main Page * Features * Reviews * Screenings * Teen ) Current Issue * Archive|
Copyright © 1999-2005, BlackFilm.com